This is a guest blog from our partners at Consilio.
Consilio has been the premier sponsor of the Annual Law Department Operations Survey since its inception 10 years ago. Back then, the LDO’s second-most common challenge was to “show value of the position to the corporation.” Today, it’s not even in the top seven. But it’s no time for complacency.
LDO leaders must continually be communicating the impact and value of the legal operations function. Letting legal department leaders forget or not fully understand the value of the legal operations function will cause funding challenges that will ultimately compromise the role, authority, and effectiveness of the legal operations team. Nowadays, there really is no excuse to not keep the value of the legal ops team front and center. If you don’t, you may be failing in your mission. So how can an LDO professional stay on top?
Here are six steps to help LDO professionals stay front and center and always have a strong case to get the funding they need:
1. Consolidate enterprise legal spend.
Many companies still manage legal spend regionally or by business unit, outside of the legal department, but consolidating all legal spend provides an LDO leader the opportunity to make a positive financial impact.
2. Have a plan.
Create a three-year plan and make a list of initiatives that take into account the needs of your most important legal stakeholders. Organize this list into short, medium and long-term initiatives, estimate effort, articulate potential value, and document who they impact and the potential ROI.
3. Present the findings to key stakeholders.
Go on a “book tour” with the most important stakeholders, which will likely include the General Counsel, head of litigation, head of IP, and other AGCs, to get them to buy in to the initiatives. Finding those stakeholders which are most amenable will strengthen your power base.
4. Start the initiatives with the shortest timeline.
Consider “low hanging fruit” projects that offer good value, are low in cost and may have a visible impact on your company’s business. For example, revamping outside counsel billing guidelines to the latest best practices or initiating a cybersecurity assessment of your law firms can quickly and easily show proactive value.
5. Communicate successes.
Get the message out internally about successful initiatives and clearly communicate expectations on ongoing initiatives — especially what not to expect. Pro tip: internal promotions with competitions and prizes are increasingly popular and will help you stir enthusiasm, get the message out and begin to gain traction.
6. Hire experts.
There are many experts who have already gone through what you are trying to achieve and can provide best practices that help ensure success and reduce risk. Admitting you need help may seem like a negative in the short-term but it will lead to more credibility and successful initiatives over time. If it potentially adds value as an operational initiative, it is the responsibility of LDOs to bring it over the finish line.
BONUS: Think like the CFO. Ultimately, the GC has to be in a position where he or she can respond to questions from the Chief Financial Officer. LDOs are in the best position to help their GC anticipate these questions, be prepared to answer them and be so far in front that the CFO can voice no complaints.
The top challenges faced by LDOs have evolved over the last 10 years…still you must know what the levers are available are to help you fund your initiatives, even before being asked.
To download the Law Department Operations Survey 10th Anniversary Report, click here.